Hawks Brighten Present But Dim Future

The Atlanta Hawks announced the addition of guard Kirk Hinrich and center/forward Hilton Armstrong from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans, Jordan Crawford and a their 2011 1st round draft pick.

Although the deal immediately strengthens the clubs perimeter defense, the future seems a lot less promising than it did at the beginning of the season.

Twelve year vet, Bibby, started off the season shooting the ball like never before. The early weeks of the season saw him lead the league in three-point field goal percentage. Despite cooling off considerably, Bibby is still on pace to finish the season with a career high in this category.

On the flip side, Bibby is old. Asking the 32 year-old to chase around speedsters such as Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, etc. is asking too much. Even in his prime Bibby probably would have struggled to contain the aforementioned guards and given his aging body, this task has become mission impossible.

As the old saying goes: “If you can beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Bibby is set to do just that as he will serve as back up to one of the quickest players in the league, John Wall. Bibby, who was an elite point guard in the league just half a decade ago, could prove to be a good mentor for his rookie counterpart.

Hinrich is set to take over the starting point guard spot. The seven year veteran spreads the floor with his shooting but he can also penetrate and has developed a reputation as a hard-nosed perimeter defender. Hinrich is averaging 11.1 points, 4.4 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game but he looked particularly sharp when Wall was out with injuries.

It’s rare to sit in on a Larry Drew press conference and not here something about “blue-collar effort.” This is exactly what Hinrich brings to the table on the defense end of the ball and he currently posses more offense versatility than his predecsessor.

There is no doubt that Hinrich makes the Hawks better right now, however, its not certain that this trade is the best thing for the Hawks future.

The Hawks entered the 2010-2011 season with two of their three team captains, Al Horford and Josh Smith, being just 24 and 25-years-old respectively. Rumors were also swirling that second year guard, Jeff Teague, could threaten to crack the starting lineup. Also, the Hawks managed to nab Jordan Crawford in the draft, and he has showed signs that he can develop into an effective scorer in the years to come.

The Hawks still have their young core in tack but the trade for Hinrich combined with limited playing time is just even more proof that the predictions of Teague becoming the hawks point guard of the future are probably never going to come true. The Hawks also gave up on Crawford’s potential and a the potential to grab the Gary Neal of the 2011 draft.

Also, considering Evans managed to sneak into the starting lineup this season and earn a few extra minutes here and there due mostly to injuries sustained by Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams and Jamal Crawford, it seems risky that the Hawks would send him off without getting another wing player in return. This could mean more playing time for small forward Damien Wilkins.

Hilton Armstrong is the latest to join list of players that might help the Hawks depth in the froncourt alongside Josh Powell and Etan Thomas. Considering the aforementioned bigs aren’t getting much burn this season, it will be interesting to see if Armstrong finds a spot in the rotation.

Ultimately the Hawks filled some needs for this season with the deal but they have plenty of questions to answer about the direction of the team over the next couple of years.

About the Author

Jerel Marshall Jerel is currently a journalism major at Georgia State University and the Sports Editor for the student newspaper The Signal. He also runs a site dedicated to discovering and reviewing new music, RapRuler.com.